Published on June 30th, 2020 by gavin

Update: BBE Statement on the COVID-19 Pandemic – effective from 4 July 2020

This advice is issued in response to the Government’s announcement of the relaxation of lockdown measures announced on 23 June 2020 and effective from 4 July 2020. It will make clear the Government’s advice, but also explains where we are offering advice specific to brass band activities to help ensure the continued safety of bands’ members. The guidance has been prepared with advice from Public Health England. We would like to reiterate that this advice to BBE’s 550 member groups is not legally binding but should be viewed as best practice. We encourage bands to use their best judgement for their own specific scenarios and continue to keep the welfare of their members as first priority. BBE staff are available for advice on best practice in resumption of your band’s activities. To speak to a member of staff please call 01226 771015.

Please note this advice is issued in advance of the Government’s music sector guidelines, expected to be released in the coming days or weeks. Our guidance will be updated when this document is issued by the Government. 

As activities begin to resume, please remember there are still considerable risks. Bands will need to be active in reducing these by modifying activities to look after members who may be particularly vulnerable. We hope that your bands are still intact but, for those that may be struggling, we recently launched a fund to support organisations with specific problems relating to finance. If you require assistance then please contact [email protected] to find out how to apply to the Brass Band Emergency Fund.

Advice on new regulations from 4 July 2020

Social distancing while not playing (meetings, social gatherings etc.)

In all activity social distancing must be maintained. Currently the Government says this should be 2m. To help maintain this distance you might need to use the following to help maintain distances:

·         Putting up signs to remind members and visitors of social distancing guidance

·         Avoiding sharing equipment 

·         Using floor tape or paint to mark areas to help people keep to a 2m distance

·         Arranging one-way traffic through the space if possible

This can be reduced to 1m when 2m is not possible, but only with additional (and all possible) mitigating measures. These mitigating measures include:

·         Considering whether an activity needs to continue for the band

·         Keeping the activity time involved as short as possible

·         Using screens or barriers to separate people from each other

·         Avoid facing each other directly

·         Staggering arrival and departure times

·         Reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using fixed teams or partnering

If using the toilet this should be cleaned before and after each use and the lid lowered when flushing to reduce the spread of aerosols. 

In addition, bands are advised to keep an accurate record of attendance, including arrival and departure times, and contact details for potential use in contact tracing. 

Social distancing in rehearsals 

The risk of transmission of viral aerosols in brass instruments is currently not fully understood and the scientific literature is at best mixed over safe distances of operation. For this reason, to ensure your members’ safety we recommend you still aim to maintain 3m spacing while playing wherever possible. It has been estimated this spacing has a transmission risk approximately 100 times lower than spacings of 1m. Spacing is more important indoors and you should aim to increase ventilation to aid the removal of viral aerosols. 

We hope to be able to update the 3m recommended spacing very soon, but this is dependent on the Government advice specific to musicians, which is expected to be released in the coming days or weeks.

The Government advice means that groups of 6 players from multiple households can meet in outdoor spaces. As this also applies to rehearsals, this currently limits rehearsing to groups of 6 outdoors. 

In addition, BBE has received the following advice from Public Health England, to ensure that rehearsals can be managed safely:

·  Increase social distancing to 3m in all directions while playing and aim instruments away from other players where possible 

·  Individuals should each handle only their own music stand and music, and take all equipment home after each meeting

·  Bring a towel or similar to empty water keys onto. This should only be handled by the individual, removed by them and cleaned or disposed of after each use

·  Instruments should be cleaned after each use

·  Extra cleaning of mouthpieces should be observed

·  There should be no sharing of instruments or accessories i.e. mutes or valve oil

·  After rehearsals the area should be thoroughly cleaned before being used by anyone else i.e. crawling children

It is now possible for 2 households to come together inside a private space, which might facilitate some indoor playing. When playing indoors these additional points will be applicable:

·  Social distancing (aiming for 3m) should be maintained 

·  Screens should be used to separate rows where playing towards someone is unavoidable or social distancing cannot be maintained

·  Ventilation should be increased as much as possible to remove the accumulation of aerosol particles

Currently rehearsals in groups larger than 6 are not allowed unless formed entirely from 2 households. 


BBE has been working with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which has confirmed that the announcement covering a five-stage plan for a ‘phased return’ to performances only applies to professional individuals and ensembles. Rehearsals for amateur brass bands, therefore, must not take place with more than 6 individuals, potentially from different households, or any number from 2 households. The Government’s guidelines state that it is not yet safe for performances to take place in front of a live audience.

The DCMS has confirmed that it expects to release the guidance for ongoing music activities later this week and we will keep bands updated as this is announced. 

Notes on this advice

Further information is available on the Government’s FAQ on the new arrangements at

This advice does not apply directly to anyone currently being shielded. They should continue to observe the latest specific Government advice and any direct contact with other band members should carefully reflect this. Similarly, anyone currently showing known symptoms of COVID-19 or who may have been in recent contact with someone who has, or those belonging to vulnerable categories, should not yet take part in any group activity but should remain at home in isolation.

It should be noted by BBE members in Scotland and Wales that regulations there differ from those in place in England. These should be observed carefully depending on the part of the UK in which those organisations are based. 

Brass Bands England is maintaining contact with and taking advice from Arts Council England, Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Public Health England to continue to update the brass band sector and ensure that brass banding activity can be restarted in a way to ensure the safety of everyone involved. 

To discuss any queries or concerns relating to banding activity during the COVID-19 Pandemic, please call the Brass Bands England office on 01226 771015 or email [email protected]

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